SAINT MAYBE by Anne Tyler
Kirkus Star

SAINT MAYBE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Many of Tyler's principals, introverted, removed, plod around the perimeters of self like patient dray horses, so it's no surprise that her saint here--a Baltimore teen convinced that he caused not only his brother's death but the dire consequences that followed shortly after--is a deliberate and careful saint, laboring conscientiously on the narrow, plainly marked path of a fundamentalist Christian church toward expiation. One terrible night, Ian Bedloe, 19, third child of cheerful Bee and agreeable Doug (one of those Tyler men who say, "Well, now"), blurts out to brother Danny his suspicions about Danny's wife--bright-lipsticked, tiny-faced Lucy, mother of two by a divorced husband and of an infant (by Danny?). Danny, slightly drunk, drives off into a fatal accident; months later, sad and scatty Lucy dies also--after what was probably an accidental close of sleeping pills. Clubbed by the horror of unbearable guilt, Ian is drawn to the storefront Church of the Second Chance, presided over by Reverend Emmett, undoubtedly God's agent--bony, magisterial, discovered later to be affectionately capricious. Reverend Emmett lays out the Way: forget college, provide for and rescue aging parents from the care of Lucy's kids (ages six, three, and baby) and "set things right." Ian "saw that he was beginning from scratch...as low as he could get." Years pass; Ian works as a carpenter leading a life of celibacy and service; kids mature and shape up. Where is that reward? Ian is ripe for a Sign. It comes, of course--as do love and a second chance. As always, Tyler's people--from powerless small children (whose "every waking minute was scary") to the electric, poignant Lucy to the crackly little church group--are as intensely real and yet ultimately unknowable as those who somehow have changed one's life. Less accessible than some of Tyler's others, but on its own terms, perfection.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0449911608
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1991




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